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Primary Closet Makeover

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This closet makeover has been a long time coming- I built out the first wall of our closet back in 2019 for shoe storage and to this day I love how it turned out! I knew the remaining space would be a huge undertaking and put it on the back burner until I could plan it out exactly how I wanted. I also wasn't sure if I wanted to build it completely custom or use the Ikea PAX system and trim it out to give it a custom look.

I decided to test out the PAX system by using it in my sons closet and was really happy with it! I loved all the KOMPLEMENT accessories available to make it fit your personal needs and it sped up the process tremendously when it came to drawers. I've built drawers a few times, most recently in my garage workshop and would be happy never making another drawer in my life. Considering that I needed 17 of them, my decision was made pretty easily. So the lower part of the closet is using the PAX frames and the uppers I built custom.

Room Dimensions:

Our closet is an odd shape but the space that I'm working with is approximately 5.5' x9' with 12' ceilings.

This is what we started with:

The first step was to rip everything out. I’d be covering the walls so I didn‘t worry about messing up the drywall- obviously. :)

Here are the exact units I purchased from IKEA. All of my selections were 92” tall and 22“ deep except the wall on the right which is 13” deep due to the size of my closet.


(2) Wardrobe Frame 502.145.60 (2) Wardrobe Frame 202.145.71

(1) Wardrobe Frame 002.145.72

(1) Wardrobe Corner Add-On Unit 303.469.34

(1) Divider for Frame 602.463.96


(4) Drawers 902.463.52

(4) Drawer 102.463.08

(2) Drawer 302.467.22

(4) Drawer 702.467.58

(2) Pull-Out Tray 702.463.86

(1) Pull-Out Tray 204.339.84

(4) Shelf 702.779.57

(3) Shelf 902.779.61

(2) Shelf 002.779.89

(3) Clothes Rail 402.568.95

(3) Clothes Rail 302.568.91

(1) Clothes Rod 104.464.49

I started by building the main Ikea units, bringing them in to make sure I was happy with the layout and the feel of how much space would be left after the units were up. All of the units in this space are 22” deep but the unit I’d be putting on this right wall is 13”. You can see how I used a corner add-on unit for that left corner but on the right I’ll just be using a normal unit.

Next I built a base for the units. This step isn’t necessary but I wanted them to look more ‘built in’ and will always prefer to add a base when I have the ceiling height for it.

Instead of using the backing that comes with the PAX units, I bought 1/4” plywood to replace it. The IKEA backing has a seam down the middle so this just makes it look nicer! I sanded down the backing before attaching it to the units with 220 grit- you can see the difference in the left side which is sanded vs the right. It’s less yellow and a lot more smooth! After cutting down to size and sanding, I attached them to the back with wood glue and my nail gun.

After attaching the back, I set the units up and spaced them evenly. They were attached to each other first (with shims as needed) making sure they were evenly flush at the front, then secured them to the back walls.

Before securing the units on either side I built a few of the drawers and installed some shelves to make sure I was happy with the height of all the hanging rods.

Then I installed the corner units/side units. The unit you in the left corner is actually a corner unit, while the units on the right are just separate shelving units butted up to each other. I also added a second ‘base’ above these units and attached them with screws up into the base. This might not have been necessary but it made me feel super sure that everything was secure and would support the upper units.

The corner unit made by IKEA comes with metal hardware to attach it but I didn’t want any visible metal so I didn’t use it. Instead, I attached both units to the ‘upper base’ I built out of 2x4s to secure it and then used a shim in the small gap on the top and bottom. This is what it looked like before painting- I added more wood filler and sanded it down so after painting it looked like one complete corner unit.

And this is what the bottom looked like before adding the trim/painting.

I built the upper units out of 3/4” plywood with supports in the back that I secured to studs in the back wall.

I trimmed out the lower units before adding the upper units only because we had some recessed lighting and an air vent that needed to be moved first. I used 1x select pine boards to trim it out, leaving the drawers in place while going to make sure the trim wasn’t so wide it wouldn’t allow the drawers to open/close. I also wood-filled all the holes after deciding on placement of the shelves. This is a personal preference and I know the holes don’t bother a lot of people, but I think filling them makes it look so much nicer. At the end of the day it’s just wood filler and you can always use a screwdriver to pop it open again!

Once I added the upper units I trimmed those out and added 1/4” plywood as backing. I used 1x select pine boards that I ripped down to size for the drawers and attached them with my nail gun from the front to hold in place before screwing them in from the back.

I added crown moulding to the top and waited until the flooring was installed to install the baseboards.

I added this decorative trim to the cover the second ‘base’ from the side— totally just made this up as I went but happy with how it turned out!

Here are some more photos pre-paint (and pre caulk).

To paint I used Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer, sanded everything down with 220 grit, cleaned and wiped it down and then used Sherwin Williams Urethane Enamel in the color Pure White. Instead of using a sprayer I opted to paint it by hand (I just prefer brushing/rolling) and it looks like it was sprayed! I also used the same process to paint all of the drawers.

I got a sample of flooring and brought it to the room to make sure I liked the color in the space!

It looks a little more orange in photos than it does in person (there’s no natural light in this room) but I was so happy with the way it turned out!

I ordered a rolling ladder from Putnam Ladder Company and it’s the MOST perfect finish to the space. The cost of the ladder is about as much as the closet itself but is a tiny fraction of the cost of a custom closet that you’d pay someone else to build and it was honestly needed with our ceilings being so high. We chose white oak for the ladder and the hardware is satin brass.



Is there anything you would do differently?

Honestly no, but considering I thought about this for years and took months planning I would hope I got it all right.

How much did the entire project cost?

$4481 for the entire room, not including the addition of the rolling ladder.


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